This quick recipe produces a large amount of finished cookies with little effort on your part. I pulled it out of the Ottawa Citizen back in December. I think that due to their dense nature you could easily switch out the flour for a gluten-free option.
Start by whisking together 3 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup cornstarch.
Then get zesty! The recipe calls for the finely grated zest of 5 limes, but I only had 3 limes, so I added a large orange into the mix.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat 2 cups butter until smooth and creamy.
Then tip in 1/2 cup icing sugar and beat that until it’s fluffy and wonderful.
Add in your lime zest, together with 1 teaspoon ground cardamom and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat that to combine the ingredients.
Add in the flour and mix that until it’s all incorporated.
Cover and chill the dough for an hour until it’s firm.
When you’re ready to go, preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the batter and form it into 1″ balls.
Plop those on the baking sheets (they won’t expand much so you can put them pretty close together).
Bake those suckers for about 10-14 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just start to brown. Remove them from the heat and let them cool for about 5 minutes.
Grab 1/2 cup icing sugar and dump it in a bowl. Roll the still-warm cookies in the sugar and set them on a wire rack to cool completely.
Roll the cookies again when cool in another 1/2 cup icing sugar and serve. I’d recommend serving them with a beverage, as they tend to fuse people’s mouths shut when they eat them!
As you know, I’m on a quest to create the best cinnamon bun out there, for my tastes, at least. People are very particular about their cinnamon buns: some like them frosted, some like them dry, with nuts, with raisins, with nothing … I like mine soft and sticky AND frosted. Raisins are okay but nuts I can usually do without.
I don’t make cinnamon buns very often because of all the kneading and rising that they entail (and my current house is a little too cold at the moment). But these ones were easy – they’re not actually cinnamon buns in the way you’d expect – and they served to assuage my craving until I have the time and the temperature to do another batch for real. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. I wouldn’t skip the parchment paper, as the sugar coming out of these will caramelize and stick, so it’s better that it sticks to the parchment and not your pans.
Grab a small bowl and dump in about 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 1/2 cup softened butter. Or less. You might want slightly less, as mine oozed everywhere. But if you like to live dangerously, then follow me!
Give that a good mooshing with a fork or pastry cutter or even your hands, doesn’t matter.
Now grab a package of thawed puff pastry (you will need to think far enough ahead for this to grab the box out of your freezer and chuck it in the fridge the day before, but that’s not that hard) and roll out the two rectangular sheets. If you bought the stuff that comes in blocks, then just roll it out flat.
Sprinkle the sugar mixture generously and evenly across the surface of the pastry.
If you’re feeling like going further, add a sprinkling of raisins and crushed walnuts as well.
Carefully roll each sheet up into a tube. Chuck that in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to stiffen up.
Slice each tube into disks about 1 1/2″ thick. I think I ended up with 8 buns from each tube.
Lay those flat on your baking sheets and shove them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden and the butter is all melted.
Remove the sheets from the oven and carefully slip the still-hot buns onto a sheet of waxed paper or parchment to cool completely. Feel free to flip them upside down while they’re still warm and oozy if you like your sticky part to be on top.
If you leave them in the pan they’ll stick to the caramelized sugar at the bottom and then they won’t come off and you’ll be sad.
When they were cool, I mixed together about 1/2 cup icing sugar with 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste and a dribbling (probably 1 tablespoon) of whipping cream.
This was yet another “baking” episode Cait and I got up to – except it involved no baking whatsoever. If you’re not a fan of peppermint patties, then you won’t like this. If you ARE a fan, well, then, maybe you’ll like these, which we made from a mish-mash of these tworecipes. Just a warning: if you make these puppies around Christmas time, you may have to search a bit to find peppermint extract in the grocery store. Cait and the Pie and I went to three separate stores before we nabbed the very last one hidden at the back of a shelf. If you’re making these for your Valentine tomorrow you may have some better luck!
Now, you’re basically making a peppermint-flavoured fondant as the centre of these babies, so let’s start with that.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, dump in 2 1/4 cup icing sugar, 2 tablespoons softened butter, 2 teaspoons peppermint extract, and 2 tablespoons cream.
Start beating it on low speed until incorporated (so you don’t get a face full of icing sugar), then increase the speed and beat until you have a solid, smooth mass.
Now take your fondant and roll it into a long snake between 1″ and 1 1/2″ in diameter (any bigger and the patties will fall apart as you manipulate them).
Wrap the snake in waxed paper and chill it for about 45 minutes or so. If you shove the snake into an old cardboard tube from a paper towel then it won’t deform while in the fridge.
In the meantime, plop 12oz chocolate (dark is probably best, but it’s your choice) into a double boiler with 6 teaspoons shortening and let that melt. The shortening is what will give the chocolate a shiny, harder exterior once it hardens again. The magic ratio for shortening to chocolate, if you’d like to use it in other recipes, is 1/2 teaspoon shortening for every 1oz chocolate. And as it happens with every chocolate-dipping recipe, depending on the size of your patties and how quickly you get this done, you may need to melt more chocolate.
Anyway, let the chocolate cool to almost room temperature (because otherwise you’ll melt the patties when you dip them and that would be bad). Take your snake out of the fridge and slice it into little disks about 1/4″ thick. To avoid the patties warming up and getting floopy, I put half of them back in the fridge.
Using chopsticks or a fork, dip the cold patty into the cool chocolate and flip to coat. Lift it out of the chocolate and let it drip for a few seconds. Set the patty on a sheet of waxed paper to harden completely.
The demented ones are the ones that Cait did. I take no responsibility for them.
Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Enjoy!
Ever have those social obligations where you promised to bring dessert and then totally forgot about it until the last minute and now you are stuck? Do I have a solution for you! Next time you’re at the grocery store, grab a package of frozen tart shells and chuck it in the freezer and forget about it. Then, when you’re in a bind, haul it out and make some tarts!
For this, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 375°F and set out 12 frozen tart shells to thaw for about 10 minutes.
Normally with lemon tarts you’d carefully create a lemon curd-like custard that you’d cook slowly and then strain. Not today! We’re going to cheat. Melt yourself 1 tablespoon butter. Let it cool while you mix up the other stuff.
In a bowl, beat up 2 eggs. Zest 1 lemon and add that in as well.
Juice the lemon until you get about 1/4 cup lemon juice (I ended up with a wee bit extra). Add that in too.
Now you need some sweet for this tart – dump in 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Stir all that up.
Finally, add in your cooled butter and stir it around.
I mixed my tart mixture in a measuring cup so I could use the spout to pour and make my life easier. Evenly distribute the tart mixture amongst the shells.
Bake the tarts for 15 minutes, until the shells are starting to brown and the filling is puffed up and solid. Allow them to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar immediately before serving.
Wanna see something crazy? While the tarts were baking, I noticed that a few of them were – well, they were DANCING. And they didn’t stop!
The interesting thing about the original recipe is it involves Horlick’s, a malted beverage very popular at the beginning of the 20th century and through the 1950s. Horlick’s is hard to find in Canada, but a close equivalent is Ovaltine.
Ovaltine on its own is definitely an acquired taste (I personally find it revolting), but it will add a richness to the hot chocolate that improves everything. You will need 2 tablespoons Ovaltine or Horlick’s.
You will also need 100g chocolate (pretty much a large-sized chocolate bar), your choice.
I made some with dark chocolate, but the Pie and I both prefer it with milk chocolate, seeing as there’s also a decent amount of unsweetened cocoa powder in this, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, in fact. Make sure you choose a cocoa that you like – don’t go cheap on this!
You will also need 2 tablespoons cornstarch (corn flour in the UK) to make this a nice thick beverage.
Here is 3 tablespoons icing (confectioner’s) sugar. You can adjust this according to your taste.
This is also a pinch or two of sea salt and a pinch of ground cinnamon, which, again, you can adjust to what suits you.
To put it all together, take your chocolate and pop it in your food processor. The original recipe calls for you to finely grate the chocolate but who wants to sit there and grate that much chocolate? Not me, and I made six batches of this.
So I just pulsed it in the food processor until it formed little crumbs.
Then you simply add in the rest of the ingredients.
Pulse it until the colour is uniform, kind of a grayish brown. The crumbs of chocolate will mix in and get smaller while you do this, too.
To prepare the hot chocolate for two people, dump about 3 heaping tablespoons of the mix into a small saucepan.
Dribble in about 1/4 cup milk.
Whisk that until you get a nice paste. This will prevent the finished hot chocolate from being lumpy.
Then pour in another 1 1/4 cup milk.
Stir that until smooth and start heating the milk until it’s a temperature you like.
To give the chocolate as gifts, you can pack the mix into these cute jars.
Mrs. Nice’s birthday was back in November and the Pie and I wanted to make her birthday cake a little more personal this year. Papa John and Mrs. Nice now live next to a farm and so their backyard faces a huge field full of very curious cows. At a craft fair recently, Mrs. Nice picked up this gorgeous painting of a cow named Molly, and so the Pie and I tried to re-create at least the sentiment of it as best we could, considering our utter lack of artistic skill.
Start at the beginning first. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Bring 3 egg whites to room temperature in a decent-sized bowl. You can drop in 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar too, while you’re at it. Leave that alone for a while.
Grab yourself some frozen strawberries. This is from a 1kg package frozen strawberries, which is about 5 cups’ worth.
Plop those in a pot with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and stew them over medium heat until they’re all melted and gooey and lovely.
You can purée them at this point if you wish but I wanted some strawberry chunks in the cake batter so I mashed the goo with a potato masher instead.
Now you can turn your oven on to 350°F and butter and parchment up your cake pan(s). I used my trusty 17″ round cake pan but there is enough batter here if you wanted to use 3-8″ round pans instead and create a layer cake.
Sift together 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 2 teaspoons baking soda and set that aside for a minute.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat together 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup vegetable shortening until fluffy and amazing.
Next, beat in 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar until it’s also fluffy and amazing. Then you can add in 2 teaspoons vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste, my new favourite thing).
Now scrape down the sides of the bowl and plop in 1 egg. Just one. It looks so lonely. Beat it up. Show it who’s boss.
Okay now we put all this jazz together. Take your strawberry goo. And your flour.
Starting with the flour, add about a third of it to your mix and stir to combine.
Add half the strawberries, then another third of the flour (mixing it all in), then the final half of the strawberries, and the last of the flour.
I decided to disobey my normal rules about colouring food and added a bit of red gel paste colouring to the batter to make the strawberries pop.
Then stir in 1 cup sour cream.
Look at that gorgeousness.
Beat your room temperature egg whites until stiff peaks form. Yay, meringue!
Ever so gently fold those fluffy whites into your batter. This batter is pretty dense and produces a pretty thin cake so you need all the fluff you can get.
Smooth the batter into your cake pan(s) and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the pan comes out clean.
Set the whole shebang on a wire rack to cool completely.
Now, if you’re not making a giant cow out of your cake, you can skip this whole segment. If you are making a giant cow out of your cake, then I hope yours turns out better than mine because you are less terrible at art.
So with the giant cake laid out on a board, I cut out the shape of the cow’s head, and then from what was left I cut out the horns and the ears. It’s all symmetrical.
Then I laid it out.
I had to move everything around on the board to get it to fit, and the cake was so sticky it was a hard job to do it without disaster. And now it looks like the Chicago Bulls logo (GREAT GIFT IDEA FOR BULLS FANS FOLKS!).
The Pie thought we should add a bit of extra cake at the snout. Now we need some frosting.
I needed two colours of icing, so in two double boilers I melted 4 oz dark chocolate and 4 oz white chocolate, respectively. If you’re just doing one colour then obviously just use one double boiler and 8 oz chocolate. When that’s all melty and smooth, set it aside to become less horribly hot.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 2-250g packages plain cream cheese (room temperature) until they’re silky smooth. Remember, the warmer your cream cheese is, the less lumpy the frosting will be.
Beat in as well 1 tablespoon vanilla (again I used the paste because I love it), 3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream, and 3/4 cup icing sugar.
Then I split the frosting between two bowls. Hello, beautiful. Look at those little flecks of vanilla seeds.
Then I poured the now-cooler white chocolate into one bowl, and the now-cooler dark chocolate into the other and stirred them up.
Ready to decorate!
I started with the white, because … well, I just did.
Then I filled it in with the dark chocolate. The nostrils are wonky because I dropped a huge gob of icing accidentally and so that’s just how it had to be. TADA! Not fine art, but highly tasty, and Mrs. Nice loved it.
Cait and I seem to have developed a tradition in recent years of getting together and baking something in time for the holidays. Usually there’s much yelling (both at each other and at what we’re doing) and definitely too much giggling. Last year we made biscotti, and the year before that we came up with those rum balls that got us wasted. This year I got to pick, and, as I’ve been craving Oreos recently, I went with that for inspiration and found this recipe from Chatelaine.
It started with us making a trip to Dollarama for some unrelated items, and Cait managed to find a three-pack of teeny tiny Santa hat hair clips. Note our manic expressions. I’m surprised mine actually stayed in my hair the whole night.
It did not stay in Gren’s hair. He was not a fan.
Start with your dough, because you’ll need to refrigerate it for a bit. In a bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I doubled the recipe because there were two of us).
Then, in the bowl of your mixer, plop 1 cup room temperature butter and beat it with 1 cup granulated sugar until it’s fluffy and lovely.
Then drip in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 egg and beat that until fluffy.
Slowly, using a shield, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well combined. The dough will be very stiff.
Separate that into two sections, flatten them into discs, and chuck them in the fridge for at least an hour. I made ours into little logs, which we then labeled “poos” for the rest of the night. We are very mature.
Now you can make your filling. Beat up 1/2 cup room temperature butter until soft and creamy, then add in 2 1/2 cups sifted icing sugar (slowly) and beat until combined. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons (or more) whipping cream until you have a nice thick fluffy icing. Then you add in 1/4 cup crushed hard candy.
Now, Cait made hers with crushed candy canes (the recipe calls for peppermint candies but they’re pretty much the same).
I, however, have a strong aversion to candy canes. So I used Werther’s hard candies instead.
Here is Cait smashing up some Werther’s for me.
So we split the icing into two parts and mixed the candy canes into one half and the hard caramels into the other.
Now, when your dough is chilled enough, preheat your oven to 375°F and spray several baking sheets or line them with parchment (which is what I did). Grab one of your chilled discs of dough and roll it out on a floured surface (or between two sheets of waxed paper, which is what I’m doing here). Dust things with flour if they get sticky.
Use cookie cutters to get some good sandwichy shapes. Cait was in charge of this as I rolled out the dough. She was very careful to make sure she made at least two of everything, for sandwichy purposes.
Gather up your scraps and chuck them back in the fridge to re-roll after ten minutes or so. Make sure to use all the dough! Place the cut cookies on your baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. The cookies will expand somewhat so don’t put them too close together.
Set the baked cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
Cait made this cookie corgi specially for the Pie.
Now sit down with your cooled cookies and your frosting and a small knife and start pasting icing onto one side of a cookie. We watched Elf as we did this, to get into the holiday spirit.
Match it up and squish it down (not too hard – they will break if you press them too hard).
And that’s it. Sandwiches! They’re supposedly best eaten the day they’re made but I actually preferred them the next day when they were a little chewier. But that’s up to you.
Store whatever you can’t eat in an airtight container.
A couple weeks ago, in the beginning stages of November, I had a strong hankering for apple muffins. I was reading a book where one of the main characters kept making them and I just couldn’t resist the temptation anymore. I found this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and the rest is really history.
Let’s start with the streusel crumb topping, shall we? It’s what elevates these simple muffins into items of historic greatness. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a bowl, then dump in 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Give that a good stirring.
Then add in 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and mix it up with a fork or your hands.
You’re going to get a lovely crumbly mix. Set that aside for a minute.
Now, preheat your oven to 425°F. I know that seems high, but don’t worry, we’ve got a plan. You might want to grease or butter a muffin tin while you’re at it. I also set 2 large eggs in a bowl of warm water to bring them to room temperature. Because I didn’t plan ahead.
In the bowl of your mixer, cream 1/2 cup room temperature butter until all fluffy and amazing. Then add in 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat that up again.
Then add in your 2 large eggs and beat until fully combined. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Now add in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/2 cup yogurt (any flavour). You can use sour cream if you have no yogurt. I had neither sour cream nor yogurt, so I used buttermilk. Well, I had no buttermilk either, so I used milk that I had soured with lemon juice.
Now, peel and chop up 2 medium apples – you want about 1 1/2 cups diced apples for this. Can you peel your apple all in one piece? It’s one of my special skills.
In another large bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. The original recipe also calls for a teaspoon of baking soda but I found I could really taste it in the muffin so I would leave it out.
Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Plop in your apples and 1/4 cup milk (any kind) and mix that up again.
Scoop that glorious stuff into your prepared muffin tin, filling the whole cup.
Sprinkle generously with the streusel topping and shove that in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for a further 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the centre muffin comes out clean.
While the muffins were baking, I glanced out the window and the bright sunny day had suddenly become a blizzard.
And then the sun came out again. Though the snow kept falling.
Set the hot muffins on a wire rack to cool down and start on your glaze.
Whisk together 1 cup icing sugar with 3 tablespoons heavy cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Drizzle that insanity over your still warm muffins.
Eat these glorious gems within a couple days, as they will tend to get soggy over time.
When I first saved this recipe in my Evernote folder, “crack pie” was super trendy. But that was like FOUR YEARS AGO. I am so not trendy. But I had 8 egg yolks left over from making meringues and this is a great way to use them up. The measurements are a bit finicky, probably, I suspect, because they were converted from metric for American audiences, but still workable. I made the cookie crust the day before, just because there are a lot of steps to follow.
To make the oat cookie for the crust: Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Technically you’re supposed to do this in a 9″ x 13″ pan but mine was dirty so what’re you gonna do …
In a bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/8 teaspoon baking powder.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar.
Beat in 1 egg until well combined.
Then tip in your flour and mix that in well.
Finally, add 1 cup oats and stir until fully blended.
Press your cookie dough (because that’s what it is, surprise!) onto your pan.
Bake for 20 minutes, then cool it completely on a wire rack.
Bust it into pieces.
To construct the cookie crust: Take the crumbled bits of cookie and chuck them in your food processor together with 1/4 cup butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar and pulse until you have fine, clumpy crumbs.
I actually found it easier (because my processor is super small) to pulse the cookie on its own and then add in the butter and sugar.
The crumbs should stick to themselves when you press on them.
Divide the crumbs between 2 10″ pie pans. These are 9″, which will make the filling a bit thicker which means I will have to bake them for a little longer but that’s fine. I rarely use my 9″ pans as it is, so don’t freak out and buy a 10″ one unless you plan on making a lot of skinny pies.
Press the crumbs onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. I may have gone a bit too high up the sides. Crack pies are pretty low-profile.
Now, in a bowl (don’t use a mixer for this as you’ll beat in too much air), whisk together 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon powdered milk (if you are unfamiliar with powdered milk, you can usually find it in the coffee/tea aisle of the grocery store).
Melt 1 cup butter (it’s a lot, I know) and stir into it 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Gently whisk the butter/cream into the sugar/powdered milk.
Then grab your 8 egg yolks. I am so pleased with how these fit into my storage container. It’s highly satisfying.
Ever-so-gently whisk the yolks into the rest of the mixture, careful again not to mix in too much air (fluffy crack pie filling will puff up and be way not as good).
Divide the filling between the two crusts.
The recipe told me to bake the pies one at a time, but as it involves temperature changes I decided it would be a waste of energy to do so, so I did them both at once. Bake the pies for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 325°F and bake for a further 10 minutes, until the surface of the filling is a nice even brown and bubbling. I had to bake the one in the white pan for an extra 5 minutes, simply because it was thicker.
Set the pies on a wire rack to cool and then cover them and shove them into the fridge. Crack pie is meant to be served cold, and even cold it’s gooey, like a giant butter tart. It’s a bit obscene, actually.
Before serving, dust the surface of the pie with icing sugar.
I hadn’t baked anything since before we left for NYC so I was kind of jonesing for some cupcakes, and these were a perfect match. They actually came straight off the package of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa flour that I was using. As far as gluten-free flours go, quinoa flour is probably one of the closest you can get, consistency-wise, to real wheat flour. When you bake with quinoa flour you end up with lovely fluffy sponge-y cakes. They do, however, taste like quinoa. So if you’re cool with that, then have at her.
Start by preheating your oven to 375°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a medium pot, melt 1/4 cup butter with 1/2 cup water and bring that to a low boil.
Whisk in 1/4 cup cocoa and remove it from the heat. Let it cool down from molten temperatures.
Sift 1 cup sugar, 1 1/4 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda into a bowl.
Add in the slightly cooled cocoa mixture and mix that around.
Separate yourself 2 eggs. Leave the whites to come to room temperature, and mix the yolks together with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup sour cream. Mix those into the cocoa mixture (make sure it’s not too hot so you don’t curdle your yolks).
Now, whip up those egg whites until stiff and foamy and then fold them into the mixture.
Drop that into your prepared baking cups and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the centre cupcake comes out clean. Let those cool completely on a wire rack.
Melt 1/2 cup butter in a medium pot over medium heat.
Add in 1 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add in 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and stir that in. Stirring occasionally, let the whole thing come to a bubble, and stay at a bubble for about 2 minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it cool enough that you won’t burn yourself on it. Because being burned by hot sugar is bad.
Beat in about 2-3 cups icing sugar, a little at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. If you find you’ve added too much, don’t freak out – just add a bit more cream and you’re all set.
Slather the icing all over your cupcakes. I tried to pipe mine but it was too thick so I went with slathering, but you can pipe it if you want. Giv’er!